Kit­tle, Kelce are two of games top tight ends

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kerry Crow­ley

SANTA CLARA >> After each Chiefs game, 49ers tight end Ge­orge Kit­tle gets a spe­cial de­liv­ery: Game tape of his coun­ter­part in Kansas City, Travis Kelce.

“I get his games ev­ery sin­gle week so I can watch what he does be­cause he’s def­i­nitely one of the best in the game at what he does,” Kit­tle said. “Re­ceiv­ing, just find­ing open spots.”

Kelce led all tight ends with 1,229 re­ceiv­ing yards this sea­son, but was edged out on the AP’s All-Pro team by a vote of 33-17 by Kit­tle, who crossed the 1,000-yard thresh­old with a seven-catch, 86yard game in Week 17 against the Sea­hawks.

The vet­eran Chiefs tight end may have su­pe­rior num­bers, but even he ad­mits that Kit­tle is a unique tal­ent at the po­si­tion.

“Just about ev­ery­body in the world thinks the world of Ge­orge Kit­tle,” Kelce told re­porters in Kansas City this week. “He’s an un­be­liev­able per­son, un­be­liev­able amount of en­ergy. How he plays the game with a tenac­ity, it’s one of a kind. It’s spe­cial.”

Su­per Bowl LIV will fea­ture elite ta­lents all over the field, but the matchup of tight ends will show­case how the po­si­tion has evolved through the years.

The last time the 49ers won the Su­per Bowl, four-time Pro Bowl tight end Brent Jones fin­ished

the reg­u­lar sea­son with 49 re­cep­tions and 670 yards. Jones is con­sid­ered one of the best to play the po­si­tion in fran­chise his­tory, but his num­bers pale in com­par­i­son to Kit­tle who set the NFL re­ceiv­ing record for tight ends in 2018 when he amassed 1,377 yards on 88 catches.

There’s no ques­tion Kit­tle has de­vel­oped as a route run­ner since en­ter­ing the league, but Kelce says the third-year 49ers starter has de­vel­oped into one of the all-around best be­cause of what he’s able to do after mak­ing the catch.

“I do be­lieve the run after catch is some­thing that I’ve been able to have a knack for since I’ve been in the league and ob­vi­ously since Kit­tle’s been in the league, he’s taken that to a whole ‘nother level,” Kelce said.

De­spite lead­ing the 49ers in re­ceiv­ing yards in each of the last two sea­sons, it’s pos­si­ble Kit­tle’s great­est im­pact still comes when he’s used as a blocker. The 49ers have en­joyed back-to-back 17-point play­off wins thanks to an un­stop­pable rush­ing at­tack that’s keyed in part by Kit­tle, who is widely re­garded as the best block­ing tight end in the league.

His will­ing­ness to set the tone in the run game

Ge­orge Kit­tle of the San Fran­cisco 49ers cel­e­brates after his team won the NFC Cham­pi­onship game against the Green Bay Pack­ers at Levi’s Sta­dium in Santa Clara.

for a phys­i­cal 49ers’ of­fense is some­thing that comes nat­u­rally to Kit­tle, who grew up play­ing for his fa­ther, Bruce, a former of­fen­sive line­man at Iowa.

“The two things that I ham­mered into him, be great in the locker room, be a great team­mate, and the other thing is, it’s still all about run block­ing,” Bruce Kit­tle said. “So when he’s the high­es­tranked Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus, not just tight end but player and his run grades are that high, to me, that’s where you win.”

Dur­ing his youth, Kit­tle’s fa­vorite play­ers were quar­ter­back Brett Favre, tight end Dal­las Clark and line­backer Brian Ur­lacher. He took to the trio for the joy they brought to the field and he’s said he tries to chan­nel the same type of en­ergy as a run blocker.

“If you put in the dirty

work, if you do what you’re asked on ev­ery sin­gle play whether it’s pass or run, the rest for us takes care of it­self,” Kit­tle said. “Whether it’s yards, touch­downs, catches, if you just do what you’re sup­posed to do, you’re even­tu­ally go­ing to get the ball.”

Their styles may dif­fer on the field as Kelce is more of a con­sis­tent threat in the pass game while Kit­tle is more of a weapon when his team runs, but they tend to share more sim­i­lar­i­ties than dif­fer­ences.

“We both love life,” Kelce said. “With that comes a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity in the tight end room to not just be a one-di­men­sional player, but to be al­most a util­ity guy in the locker room.”

Not ev­ery team in the NFL has a star tight end, but two that do landed in the Su­per Bowl.

Sabo­nis 5-13 6-6 16, War­ren 14-23 2-3 33, Turner 2-7 2-2 6, Lamb 7-9 0-0 16, McCon­nell 5-9 2-2 12, McDer­mott 9-10 0-0 24, J.Hol­i­day 3-7 0-0 8, A.Hol­i­day 4-8 0-0 12, Sum­ner 1-2 0-0 2. To­tals 50-88 12-13 129.

WAR­RIORS (118)

Green 3-8 3-3 10, Robin­son III 7-10 2-3 18, Chriss 5-5 2-2 13, Lee 1-5 0-0 2, Rus­sell 13-21 2-2 37, Paschall 3-7 3-4 9, Spell­man 3-6 1-2 9, Burks 3-14 3-4 11, Poole 2-6 3-3 9. To­tals 40-82 19-23 118.

In­di­ana 17-28 (McDer­mott 6-7, A.Hol­i­day 4-5, War­ren 3-6, Lamb

2-3, J.Hol­i­day 2-6), Golden State 19-39 (Rus­sell 9-13, Spell­man 2-3, Poole 2-4, Robin­son III 2-5, Burks 2-7, Green 1-4);

None; In­di­ana 36 (Sabo­nis 10), Golden State 38 (Paschall, Robin­son III 7); In­di­ana 35 (McCon­nell, Sabo­nis 8), Golden State 31 (Green 11); In­di­ana 20, Golden State 16; 18,064 (18,064)

Fouled out:

To­tal fouls:

A:

Harden, HOU An­tetknmp, MIL Don­cic, DAL Young, ATL Lil­lard, POR Beal, WAS Leonard, LAC Booker, PHX Davis, LAL Wst­brook, HOU In­gram, NOP James, LAL LaVine, CHI Mitchell, UTA Si­akam, TOR

Re­bounds:

As­sists:

43 43 40 41 44 37 35 42 38 38 41 43 47 43 34 447 477 380 380 391 357 335 386 344 373 354 416 405 393 300

1. Bay­lor (16-1) at Florida. 457 1551 266 1289 285 1163 292 1193 303 1247 221 1027 217 956 272 1123 273 1001 197 982 226 1034 161 1083 216 1170 173 1060 124 798 36.1 30.0 29.1 29.1 28.3 27.8 27.3 26.7 26.3 25.8 25.2 25.2 24.9 24.7 23.5

No games sched­uled

Satur­day's games

Metropoli­tan All-Stars at At­lantic Al­lS­tars, (n)

Pa­cific All-Stars at Cen­tral All-Stars, (n) All-Stars TBD, (n)

Sun­day's games

No games sched­uled

Mon­day's games

Washington at Mon­treal, 4 p.m. New Jer­sey at Ot­tawa, 4:30 p.m. Tampa Bay at Dal­las, 5 p.m. Toronto at Nashville, 5 p.m.

St. Louis at Van­cou­ver, 7 p.m. Ana­heim at Sharks, 7:30 p.m.

Con­nor McDavid, EDM 49 Leon Drai­saitl, EDM 49 N. MacKin­non, COL 49 David Pas­tr­nak, BOS 51 Artemi Pa­narin, NYR 47 J. Hu­berdeau, FLA 49 Brad Marc­hand, BOS 51 Pa­trick Kane, CHI 51 Jack Eichel, BUF 48 John Carl­son, WSH 49 Aus­ton Matthews, TOR 49

Purse: Sur­face:

MEN'S SIN­GLES

THIRD ROUND

27 27 30 37 26 18 21 25 28 13 34

Satur­day at Mel­bourne Park Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia AUD71,000,000

Hard­court out­door 49 48 42 33 42 47 44 38 34 47 23

Gael Monfils (10), France, def. Ernests Gul­bis, Latvia, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-3.

Rafael Nadal (1), Spain, def. Pablo Car­reno Busta (27), Spain, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Do­minic Thiem (5), Aus­tria, def. Tay­lor Fritz (29), United States, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4.

An­drey Rublev (17), Rus­sia, def. David Gof­fin (11), Bel­gium, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (4). 76 75 72 70 68 65 65 63 62 60 57

Vir­ginia at UConn at In­di­ana at Iona at St. Peter's at Man­hat­tan at Siena at Fair­field at Hous­ton Michi­gan St. at Saint Louis at Creighton at N. Iowa at Drake

San Diego St. at Val­paraiso at Ore­gon Stan­ford

Ohio State

Mon­day

Fa­vorite

Washington at Ot­tawa at Nashville Tampa Bay at Van­cou­ver at San Jose

Fa­vorite

Kansas City 51⁄2 51⁄2

2

11⁄2 61⁄2

1

5

11⁄2 13

4 141⁄2 41⁄2 51⁄2 31⁄2

7 off 131⁄2 7

61⁄2

Su­per Bowl - Sun Feb 2

1 (54) at Wake For­est

Tulsa Mary­land Mon­mouth Ni­a­gara

Rider Quin­nip­iac

Cani­sius So. Florida at Min­nesota Ford­ham

Xavier Loy­ola Of Chicago Mis­souri St.

at UNLV Evansville

UCLA at Cal­i­for­nia at N'west­ern

Col­lege bas­ket­ball

Tennis

-133/+123 -130/+120 -125/+115 -134/+124 -110/+100 -145/+135

Line (O/U)

at Mon­treal New Jer­sey Toronto at Dal­las St. Louis Ana­heim

San Fran­cisco

SEAN M. HAFFEY — GETTY IM­AGES

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